Renée McDonald is a Melbourne based artist, sculptor and jewellery designer. She completed her Fine Arts degree and Honours majoring in Glass Blowing 2007. Reneé’s craft involves a delicate technique of inflating and manipulating molten glass into beautiful translucent objects. She has shown her work throughout distinguished galleries around Melbourne as well as frequently collaborating custom design collections.
Captivated by the ethereal aesthetic of Renée’s contemporary pieces, I invited her to participate in my group opening exhibition at Écume Gallery in 2015. Ever since, I have been intrigued to learn more about Renee’s creative process, challenges and inspirations, and also the ancient craft of glassblowing (that dates back to middle of the 1st century BC).
Tell us what led you to the art of glassblowing, and why? I was originally following my dream of being a painter and studying this at university. I met a glassblower and was mesmerized by the fluidity and movement of color and the actual medium of glass itself – the way it evolves from solid to liquid to solid again. Glassblowing appealed to me as a new challenge and a way to expand my creativity from painting on a canvas to painting with color in the glass.
I was lucky enough to get an interview and furthermore be selected for the course at Monash, leaving my paintbrush behind and moving onto the furnace.
Describe your process and technique: I like to work with loose guidelines and a rough idea of what I might like to create. However, being very open to letting the colors and medium dictate the piece. I think this is one of the most beautiful aspects of glass and I try to not control it too much.
What are the pros and cons of creating commissioned artwork? Well, it’s all pros really! Who doesn’t want to get the opportunity to create something beautiful that someone really wants. I’m always chuffed when I get approached for a commission, I consider it an honor.
However, if I had to pick one con it would be having to stick to a very strict brief sometimes, which can be challenging if in the moment you have a lighting bolt idea to try something radical. I have to hone it in and stick to the plan.
What/who inspires or influences your designs? I have always been heavily inspired by nature and my surrounds with color and texture constantly being a main focal point in my work. Sometimes I’ll be in the garden and find the most beautiful textures and patterns on a leaf and that sets a new wave of ideas to inspire me in the studio.
I find my work is very much dictated by my mood and energy levels on the day. It’s very hard for me to create something beautiful if I’m not feeling the creative energy, so I find if I’m not 100% in the zone, best to hold off making anything that day.
What do you hope to create and achieve with your art? Beautiful pieces that move people or make them smile when they look at them. It doesn’t need to be tricky or fancy, sometimes the most simplistic pieces are the most captivating.
RENEE MCDONALD’S CHECKLIST:
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM CREATIVE COLLABORATIVE ENDEAVOR? Dinosaur Designs or Kip & Co.
IF YOU WERE TO DANCE LIKE NOBODY IS WATCHING, WHAT WOULD BE THE SONG OF CHOICE: “Teardrops” by Womack & Womack.
DESCRIBE YOUR ART STUDIO: Organized chaos and very colorful.
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT IN YOUR STUDIO? Music!
FAVORITE ART GALLERY? Can’t go past NGV.
MOST INFLUENTIAL/INSPIRING ARTIST (LIVING/DEAD) AND WHY? Dale Chihuly, glass artist, he was/is a real pioneer in creating glass sculptures that step away from the traditional idealistic vessel or functional glass.
WHO WOULD YOU WANT MOST TO ART SWAP WITH? Some of my closest friends! They all have impeccable taste.
BEST CAREER ADVICE: Enjoy it. And if you don’t, find something you do enjoy. Life is too short.
UPCOMING EXHIBITIONS/PROJECTS? Collaboration with a Melbourne boutique for Spring/Summer
Australian abstract artist Boe Sapun is the founder and curator of Ecume Gallery. The Melbourne-based gallery represents both local, international, established, and emerging contemporary art. The idea of having great art accessible to a broad audience prompted the online gallery showcasing her own work, as well as a diverse range and ever-growing list of talented contributing artists. Boe’s passion is in discovering creative minds and understanding the finer nuances of their character which influence their process, inspiration, and art. Follow Boe Sapun and Écume Gallery on Instagram and Facebook.